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A New Direction for Continuing Education

School of Continuing Studies Dean Thomas Gibbons addresses the need for change

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Dean Thomas F. Gibbons of Northwestern University School of Continuing Studies called recently for continuing studies programs in higher education to rethink their business models in light of the economic realities facing the academy.

As the 2011-2012 president-elect of the University Professional & Continuing Education Association (UPCEA), Gibbons served as chair of the UPCEA’s strategic planning committee, which proposed measures now under consideration to chart a new course for change in higher education.

Gibbons is slated to become president of UPCEA in March. 

In a recent article he wrote for the inaugural issue of The EvoLLLution, a periodical aimed at improving nontraditional education, Gibbons noted, “This presents a tremendous opportunity for continuing and professional higher education, where such schools and divisions often have a reputation for innovation and flexibility and a philosophy of providing greater access to learning at more affordable tuition prices.” 

Continuing education, Gibbons observed, “is also known for building highly successful business models capable of delivering quality learning experiences while returning much-needed revenue back to the university.”

Among the recommendations outlined in the UPCEA strategic plan:

  • A greater use of technology to deliver professional development opportunities.
  • The need to extend such opportunities to a broader continuing education audience.
  • Development of a research and information capacity to serve members and their institutions.
  • Creation of affordable research opportunities for members from large and small institutions alike.

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